We know that keeping up with Denver’s ever-changing, always-growing dining scene can be challenging. For this reason, we launched “The Highlight Reel,” a monthly recap of everything you need to know about dining out in (and around) the Mile High City. We’ll talk about the month’s hottest openings and news, as well as closings and what we’re looking forward to in the month to come.

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Recent Openings

Pop’s Place, a quirky cafe from Stephen Kleinman (father of The Inventing Room’s Ian Kleinman) and Jim Pittenger (founder of Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs) opened in the former Lower48 Kitchen space on April 1. The cafe serves eclectic American-style eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Preservery, a fast-casual RiNo eatery, bakery, and community gathering space, launched on April 1. This airy cafe specializes in sandwiches on freshly baked bread, light breakfast fare, and ambitious dinner plates such as braised rabbit and halibut in saffron broth.

The Berkeley location of Biju’s Little Curry Shop opened on April 1. A Boulder outpost (located inside the Pearl Street Whole Foods) followed shortly after on April 19.

The Cherry Creek outpost of Matsuhisa, a high-end Japanese eatery from the world-renowned Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, opened in early April.

Frozen Matter, a cow-to-cone ice cream shop, opened in Uptown in early April. It’s one of the few ice cream parlors in the country licensed to operate as a dairy plant. Psst: We hear there’s a cocktail speakeasy slated to open in the back of the creamery in the near future.

Frozen Matter
Pair your ice cream with booze at Frozen Matter.

Breakfast eatery Syrup opened its third location in City Park’s former Le Peep’s space in early April.

Superfruit Republic, a health-oriented cafe focusing on smoothies and açaí and pitaya bowls, opened in Stapleton on April 14.

The Kolache Factory opened on April 14 in a new West Colfax location (the previous Denver-area location of the Texas-based chain closed in 2013). Now, lovers of the sweet and savory stuffed pastries can once again get their fix.

Heifer and the Hen, chef Ian Clark’s new artisan creamery, opened up shop on April 15 in east Boulder. Read about the must-order flavors here.

Hosea Rosenberg and the Blackbelly Market team opened Blackbelly Butcher, a stand-alone butcher shop and market next door to the Market, on April 19.

Valhalla Cakes—a custom cake shop and bakery—opened on Tennyson Street on April 22. You may have seen (and tasted) Valhalla Cakes treats at Temple Bakery.


RiNo’s sleek noodle bar and watering hole Tengu closed in mid April.

Sunnyside’s Big Country Bar B Que is no longer.

After closing temporarily in January, there’s now a “Space for Lease” sign on the outside of Dada Art Bar. It seems that the bar will be shuttering permanently.

Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Paterson have announced the name of their forthcoming Denver restaurant. —Photo by Adam Larkey


Leña shuttered briefly at the end of March due to a kitchen fire. The Latin American eatery reopened in mid-April and has launched its new spring and summer menu with additions like beef tartare with yuca chips and salsa verde.

There’s a new grab-and-go kiosk in Union Station’s main hall hawking coffee and pre-plated snacks (like meat and cheese plates) curated by chef Lon Symensma. Look for another shake-up at Union Station soon, too: In early May, Acme Burger & Brat Corporation is closing to make way for another Lon Symensma concept. Expect the food lineup at Terminal Bar to change, too.

The Colorado Restaurant Association has announced the Industry Spotlight Award 2016 winners. Among the many winners, 5280’s own Amanda M. Faison has been chosen as Outstanding Media Professional.

Huckleberry Roasters‘ Larimer Street location is slowly transforming into Port Side. The ownership remains the same (and you’ll still be able to get coffee), but the cafe will also start serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and booze. Stop by this Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon to taste chef Chris Bell‘s (formerly of Potager) new offerings, or next week on Friday or Saturday. The full launch is coming in a month or so.

Nearly nine months after announcing their Union Station project, Bobby Stuckey and Lachlann Mackinnon-Patterson have revealed the name: Tavernetta by Frasca.

On April 12, nonprofit Project Angel Heart announced that Brandon Foster of Vesta Dipping Grill is joining on as executive chef.

Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur took home the silver medal at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Woody Creek Distillers‘ Straight Rye Whiskey was awarded the double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The Palm has re-opened for business after it closed for two months for a facelift.

Mission Yogurt Inc. has announced it will open Que Bueno Suerte!, a Mexican restaurant in the former Session Kitchen space neighborhood this summer. Work & Class chef Dana Rodriguez will consult on the menu, and Vincente “Vinny” Sosa will be executive chef.

River and Woods
A rendering of River and Woods’ interior

Daniel Asher and Josh Dinar have partnered on River and Woods in Boulder. The duo are turning the dormant John’s Restaurant space into the ultimate community gathering space, slated to open this summer. Contribute to the Indiegogo campaign here, and be sure to submit your favorite family recipes—Dinar and Asher will sift through submissions and feature many of the crowd-sourced dishes at the restaurant.

The folks behind RedCamper jams have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Happy Camper BBQ, their new, mobile “Colorado barbecue” project. Assuming that the funding process goes as planned, the truck should be rolling out green chile-topped barbecue by early June.

Chef-restaurateur Frank Bonanno announced he’ll open French 75 near downtown sometime this winter. Expect to find straight-ahead, casual French fare at Bonanno’s 12th restaurant concept.

Boulder’s Paleo-focused eatery Blooming Beets Kitchen announced that it will open a Denver location in the Baker neighborhood this winter.

Tennyson Street is getting a new Mexican restaurant with Tres Chiles Grill. An opening date for the eatery is still pending.

Long running chain Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana will open its seventh location in Gunbarrel this summer.

The owners of Roaming Buffalo BBQ will open City & Country Deli & Sausage Company next door sometime in late spring.

Arcana‘s opening chef, Matt Lackey, is no longer with the restaurant.

This summer, the DiFranco‘s team will transform Caveau Wine Bar into Blueprint Bar.

Stanley Marketplace has announced another tenant: Starling Wine & Whiskey Bar. Plus, the Big Wonderful makes its Stanley debut on May 21. Before May 21, the Big Wonderful will be taking place at its old RiNo location (starting May 6).

Image courtesy of Racca’s

What We’re Looking Forward to in May

Illegal Pete’s is opening its fifth Denver location (this one’s on Colfax Avenue and Race Street) on May 13.

The third location of Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana (formerly Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza) opens in Lakewood adjacent to the Colorado Mills mall on May 21.

Andy Ganick, owner of the Berkshire Restaurant in Stapleton, should open his fine-casual eatery Pig and the Sprout behind Union Station sometime in May.

Mas Kaos, the long-awaited love child from Uno Mas Taqueria and Kaos Pizzeria, should open in mid-May.

On May 13, State 38 Distillery in Golden is throwing a whiskey release party and unveiling its latest products: Loveday bourbon and McKenzie Scottish Peat Smoked Whisky. Find details here.

Nixon’s Coffee House will open its Platt Park location at the end of May. The coffee shop already has locations in both Englewood and Littleton.

Bang!‘s empty space on West 32nd Avenue will get a new tenant in the form of Sera’s Ramen Enclave.

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.